Opinion Letter No. 91-32
December 31, 1991
The OIP, based upon previous OIP advisory opinions
that established that the right to privacy is a
personal right that is generally extinguished upon an individual's
death, determined that, under the
UIPA, deceased individuals do not have a recognizable privacy interest
in their autopsy reports.
However, if an autopsy report mentions a living individual, disclosure
of that report, under the UIPA,
will depend upon a balancing of the privacy interests of that living
individual against the public interest
in disclosure of the autopsy report.
Further, because the premature disclosure of an autopsy
report could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement
proceeding by giving the target of the investigation premature access
to the government's case in court, the opinion concluded that autopsy
reports that are connected with a pending or prospective law enforcement
investigation may be withheld from disclosure under the UIPA's frustration
of a legitimate government function exception. Upon the conclusion
of the investigation and subsequent prosecution, if any, the autopsy
report should be made available for public inspection and copying.